Pittsburgh Ends Syracuse's 18-Game Winning Streak With 74-66 Victory

-- SB Nation's Sean Keeley of Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician previews the game at Pittsburgh. -- SB Nation's Cardiac Hill has Pitts angle.

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Syracuse Basketball Score And Reaction: Pittsburgh Earns 74-66 Victory Over Orange

The No. 3-ranked Syracuse Orange just didn’t have enough Monday night as they lost 74-66 to the Pittsburgh Panthers (No. 5 in the AP poll and No. 4 in the USA Today/Coaches poll) in an anticipated Big East Conference match up at the Petersen Events Center in Pittsburgh.

Syracuse faithful may have many different feelings after having their 18-game winning streak snapped by a team they haven’t beaten since the spring of 2006 — I guess, you can’t ask for too much since that was one heck of a run by Gerry McNamara and the 2005-'06 Orange (the link will make you feel a bit better). The first feeling a Orange supporter may have is relief because after being down "the greatest margin in NCAA Division I history" -- at least that's what it felt like -- one was probably sweating bullets and praying that the refs were not going to enforce some type of mercy rule. Luckily, Syracuse actually decided to show up and make it a contest.

The second feeling is disappointment because SU could have won that game! After being down 19-0, the Orange (18-1, 5-1) actually tied the game at 41-41 with about 14 minutes to go -- SU could have taken the lead earlier but sophomore guard missed a chip-shot lay in when the score was 37-36. But in the end, Pittsburgh was just too strong underneath -- there's only so much that junior forward Rick Jackson can do by himself.

The third feeling is anticipation for the return of junior forward and leading scorer Kris Joseph. You think the game was good on the road without Joseph? Imagine if this game was played on a neutral court -- maybe Houston, TX? -- with a conscious Joseph playing. Dick Vitale's head would explode within the first four minutes.

I take that game for what it was: A well played, Big East contest between two Top-5 teams. In both the first and last eight minutes of the game, Pitt proved it's a Top-5, Final Four squad. Syracuse, without it's best player, proved it can test a Final Four-type opponent, which is a great sign for SU fans.


Pittsburgh's Nasir Robinson Helps Snap Syracuse's 18-Game Winning Streak With 74-66 Victory

Junior forward Nasir Robinson netted a game-best 21 points Monday night, including the contest's first nine, to help the Pittsburgh Panthers (No. 5 in the AP poll and No. 4 in the USA Today/ESPN Coaches poll) defeat visiting No. 3-ranked Syracuse Orange, 74-66, in an anticipated Big East Conference match up at Petersen Events Center. Syracuse freshman guard C.J. Fair played 36 minutes off the bench and scored a collegiate-best 16 points to help SU, which trailed 19-0 in the first eight minutes, make it a contest.

Syracuse (18-1, 5-1) had its 18-game winning streak snapped and fell just one win shy of tying the school record for best start to a season -- the 1999-'00 squad started 19-0. The Orange, which moved from No. 3 to No. 4 in the latest college basketball polls, released Monday, will host No. 7 Villanova Wildcats on Saturday (noon on ESPN).

On eight of 13 shooting, Pittsburgh (18-1, 6-0) jumped out to an impressive 19-point advantage. However, SU responded with a 17-0 run, led by six points from Fair, to turn the game into a competitive showdown. The Orange, who trailed 31-27 at the half, tied the game at 41-41 with about 14 minutes remaining after sophomore forward James Southerland nailed his second 3-pointer. Pitt answered with a 12-6 run that helped the Panthers take a 53-47 lead with 9:15 remaining. Pitt never looked back and earned it's first 6-0 Big East start in program history.

Orange senior forward Rick Jackson earned his 16th double-double of the season by netting 10 points and snagging 11 rebounds. Jackson also added three blocks. Junior guard Scoop Jardine scored 12 points, including four 3-pointers, but shot just 4-for-13 from the field. Syracuse's leading scorer, junior forward Kris Joseph, did not play because of a head injury suffered Saturday in a 67-52 win over the AP polls No. 25-ranked Cincinnati Bearcats.

Pittsburgh leading scorer, junior guard Ashton Gibbs, was held to just 11 points. Senior guard Brad Wanamaker netted 15. Senior center Gary McGhee collected a game-best 15 rebounds.


Freshman C.J. Fair Sparks Syracuse Rally But Pittsburgh Leads At Half, 31-27

The No. 3-ranked Syracuse Orange turned one of the worst starts in program history into something they can work with heading into the second half against No. 5/4 Pittsburgh Panthers, who leads 31-27 after 20 minutes of play. Pittsburgh (17-1, 5-0) led 19-0 in the game’s first eight minutes but SU (18-0, 5-0) rallied behind freshman guard C.J. Fair.

Fair scored six of the contest’s next 17 points, which were all scored by the Orange who closed within 19-17 with 10:35 to go in the first half. Fair, who entered the game just before Pittsburgh guard Brad Wanamaker’s stuffed home a dunk that gave the Panthers a 19-point advantage with about 12 minutes remaining. SU sophomore guard Brandon Triche added four first-half poist, all coming during the comeback.

Orange junior forward Rick Jackson, who currently has a game-best six rebounds and three blocks, capped the rally with one of his patented left-handed baskets. Syracuse has made it a game because of ti's 2-3 zone defense that slowed down the Panthers offensiveness attack, which started eight of 13 (.615 percent) from the floor. The Panthers finished the half 13-for-29 (.448).


Syracuse Basketball: James Southerland Starts For Kris Joseph

Throughout most of the season, the No. 3-ranked Syracuse Orange have asked sophomore forward James Southerland to come off the bench, hit a couple open three-pointers and snag a few rebounds to help the Orange (18-0, 5-0 Big East) to victory. Monday night will be different because the 6-foot-8 shooter will make his first collegiate start by filling in for SU leading scorer, junior forward Kris Joseph, in the much anticipated Big East Conference match up against No. 5/4 Pittsburgh Panthers (17-1, 5-0) at the Petersen Events Center.

Joseph, who suffered a head injury during Saturday's victory against visiting Cincinnati Bearcats, was ruled out by school officials on Sunday. His loss wasn't felt two days ago when the Orange easily defeated the AP polls No. 25-ranked Bearcats, 67-52. However, Pitt, which has won 12 of the last 15 meetings against Syracuse, is a lot more talented and more physical than Cincy (16-2, 3-2). Joseph's versatility to go both inside and outside -- he's averaging 14.6 points-per game and is second in the team in rebounding (5.2 per game) -- has helped Syracuse create difficult match ups for opponents on both offense and defense.

With Southerland, Syracuse gets a forward who adds a couple inches of length at the top of a very stout 2-3 zone. Also, though Southerland may not be as polished of a scorer as Joseph, the second-year player has shown the ability to be a spark on both offense and defense. But that's off the bench, not on the floor when tip off is taking place. Time to see what Southerland is made of.

FG 3PT FT Rebounds Misc
G M M A Pct M A Pct M A Pct Off Def Tot Ast TO Stl Blk PF PPG
2010 - James Southerland 14 15.9 2.4 5.5 42.9 1.1 3.2 35.6 0.1 0.3 50.0 0.6 2.4 2.9 0.4 0.2 0.7 0.8 1.6 6.0


Syracuse Basketball: Can Fab Melo Repeat Saturday's Second-Half Performance?

As Syracuse Orange fans prepare to root on their No. 3-ranked squad Monday, there's a lingering question that many SU faithful may not want answered. That question is: "Will freshman center Fab Melo find the physical gumption needed to play against No. 5/4 Pittsburgh Panthers in Monday night's prime-time, Big East Conference match up; or is he going to foul out in the games first six seconds?"

As much as Saturday's six-point, four-block, second-half performance against the Cincinnati Bearcats, who lost 76-59, was great to watch and root for; it may have created a false hope that believes Melo has figured out how to play in the Big East Conference. Not so fast, my optimistic friends.

FG 3PT FT Rebounds Misc
G M M A Pct M A Pct M A Pct Off Def Tot Ast TO Stl Blk PF PPG
2010 - Fab Melo 17 11.0 0.8 1.6 51.9 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.4 1.1 36.8 0.7 1.1 1.8 0.3 0.6 0.4 0.8 1.8 2.1

Look, I think Melo is going to be a quality Big East center but he isn't right now. Not by a long shot. Melo has a long, long way to go before he can play with inside guys like Pittsburgh's senior Gary McGhee, who has started 52 consecutive games at center and is coming off a solid 13-point, 10-rebound game against the Seton Hall Pirates on Saturday.

FG 3PT FT Rebounds Misc
G M M A Pct M A Pct M A Pct Off Def Tot Ast TO Stl Blk PF PPG
2010 - Gary McGhee 17 20.8 2.8 4.8 57.3 0.0 0.0 0.0 1.4 2.9 46.0 2.5 4.8 7.3 0.2 0.8 0.3 1.5 1.5 6.9

Now, Syracuse is lucky to have a forward like senior Rick Jackson who plays most of the time at center -- it's usually after Melo commits his third foul about three minutes into the game. Jackson has been amazing this season -- currently, he leads the conference in field goal percentage (.589) and defensive rebounding (8.1) -- but there's going to be a game where No. 00 gets into foul trouble and Melo's going to need to step up.

I have a feeling that tonight, against probably the most physical Big East squad there is, Jackson is going to find himself with a decent amount of fouls. Will Melo be good enough to help out? I guess, SU fans are about to find out.


1999-'00 Syracuse Basketball: Can Orange Match Record-Setting 19-0 Squad?

It's not going to be an easy feat for the No. 3-ranked Syracuse Orange, however, it can be done because SU fans have seen a season start like this before. Eleven seasons ago, the 1999-'00 Syracuse Orangemen -- yes, it was that long ago -- ripped off 19-straight wins to begin a season and set a program record that hasn't been matched since.

Led by seniors center Etan Thomas, guard Jason Hart, forward Ryan Blackwell, junior forward Damone Brown and sophomore forward Preston Shumpert -- oh, can't forget about freshman guard DeShaun Williams! -- SU earned a No. 4 ranking before losing to the Seton Hall Pirates, 69-67, on Feb. 7, 2000. Oddly enough, SU lost its next game to the Louisville Cardinals, 82-69, to drop to 19-2 overall.

SU collected its 19th-straight victory by beating the Providence Friars, 74-59, on Feb. 5. Thomas posted 19 points and 14 rebounds to propel SU to the record-setting win.

That Syracuse squad went on to post a 26-6 overall record and lost to No. 1-seeded Michigan State Spartans, 75-58, in the NCAA Tournament's "Sweet 16" Round. The fourth-seeded Orangemen advanced to the Sweet 16 by beat the Samford Bulldogs in the opening round then knocked out the Kentucky Wildcats, 52-50, in the second. The Spartans went on to win the national championship.

(Recap of the 1999-'00 season provided by SUAthletics.com.)


Syracuse Vs. Pittsburgh: ESPN's Big Monday Contest Features Two Top-5 Teams

The No. 3-ranked Syracuse Orange have won many of their games with quality team play. The Orange (18-0, 5-0 Big East), who will be playing without their best player and leading scorer, junior forward Kris Joseph, will need to rely on a cohesive unit even more Monday night as they travel to the No. 5/4 Pittsburgh Panthers (17-1, 5-0) for a Big East Conference, Big Monday showdown at the Petersen Events Center (7:30 p.m. on ESPN).

Joseph, who's averaging 14.6 points-per game and is second in the team in rebounding (5.2 per game), suffered a head injury Saturday against the Cincinnati Bearcats, who lost 67-52. SU, which led 35-31 at halftime, used a 16-0 run to win easily. The Orange are now just one win away from tying a school record for best start to a season, which currently stands at 19-straight victories set by the 1999-'00 squad.

Filling in for Joseph in the starting lineup is sophomore forward James Southerland, who came off the bench Saturday to net eight points and collect eight rebounds. SU head coach Jim Boeheim will also want freshman center Fab Melo to play more than the normal amount of minutes. Melo, who has a tendency of earning quick fouls during the first half of games, was a big contributor in the second half with six points and four blocks.

Currently, Pittsburgh is on a seven-game winning streak, which has featured the Panthers defeating opponents by an average margin of 15.7 points. Pitt, who was the Big East Preseason favorite by league coaches, is also on a 19-game home winning streak. Also, add that the Panthers are undefeated (8-0) against Top-5 teams at home and no Syracuse player has ever beat Pitt makes a victory seem almost impossible.

From the 3-point land -- an aspect that is key in beating Syracuse's 2-3 zone -- the Panthers rank No. 1 in the conference in percentage (.392) but only ninth in attempts (17.1). Junior guard Ashton Gibbs leads the team in average 3-point attempts (7.2 a game) and leads the conference in made 3-pointers (3.3). Gibbs also leads the team in scoring (16.3).  However, Syracuse is eighth in the nation in field goal percentage defense (.372).

Pittsburgh also leads the nation in rebound margin (plus 13.1) and assists (20.1 per game).

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